A service which enables people at risk of getting dementia, or who are newly diagnosed, to continue to do the things they enjoy has been launched by Alzheimer’s Society in Birmingham.
The Birmingham Hearts and Minds befriending service is a one year pilot scheme funded by the Birmingham City Council, to support people in need of social contact and encouragement.
The Dementia 2013 report by Alzheimer’s Society showed that 85 per cent of people with dementia say that they struggle with isolation, loneliness and depression. Befrienders provide companionship and are matched with people depending on their personality and common interests. People with dementia are able to continue to do things they enjoy from shopping, visiting the gardening centre or joining an exercise group to simply just having a chat over a cup of tea.
Janice Connolly, Locality Manager for Alzheimer’s Society in Midlands Central, said: ‘Life doesn’t stop when a person is diagnosed with dementia. People often still want to do the things they enjoyed doing before, such as a game of golf or a walk in the countryside, but they might need some extra support. This service offers the perfect opportunity for volunteers to help people with dementia to continue to feel a part of their community and to do the things they enjoy.
There are currently 7,461 people living with dementia in Birmingham and less than half (46.1%) receiving a diagnosis. A diagnosis is important, as with the right support people can live well with the condition for a number of years.’
Mrs. B, resides in Birmingham and is a befriending service user, said: ‘It’s bloomin’ great! I feel like I’m living and connected again at long last’.
Volunteering is not only beneficial for the person being befriended, the befrienders themselves develop their communication skills and increase their confidence as well as making a new friend. Many of the volunteers have experienced dementia in their own families and are eager to give something back. There has been a lot of interest in the service and new volunteers are always welcome. The time commitment is about three hours a week.
To find out more about accessing or volunteering for the befriending service please contact Befriending Manager Diana Arseneau-Powell on 0121 700 7384 or email
As well as the befriending service Alzheimer’s Society in Birmingham and Solihull has a number of services including Dementia Cafes, Singing for the Brain, Dementia Advisor Service and Memory Cafes. To find out more visit www.alzheimers.org.uk/localinformation or contact the Solihull office on 0121 706 4052 or email